Oftentimes, meal planning services only provide one piece of the strategic cooking puzzle. They’ll help you decide what recipes to make for the week, but you’re often left on your own figuring out what you already have in your pantry and fridge and doing the actual shopping for ingredients part.
Startup Nutrient is trying to make meal planning a more streamlined process — one that’s also tailored to your specific dietary goals. Users go to the Nutrient website or download the app. They’re prompted to fill in a short questionnaire to determine what sort of calorie intake and nutrients best suit their lifestyle and goals. The app also takes into account any dining restrictions (meat-free, etc.). Nutrient then generates a meal plan of healthy recipes, all of which are developed internally.
From there, users can either download a shopping list or buy them through online grocery service FreshDirect, which they can do without leaving the Nutrient ecosystem. The Pantry page also lets users input what’s in their pantry and fridge, so the app can omit ingredients you already have from shopping lists or suggest recipes featuring ingredients it knows you have on hand.
Founded in Prague, the startup recently moved to New York City to attend the Food-X Accelerator. In the U.S. Nutrient is piloting its technology with a small group of friends and family. When I spoke with Nutrient’s CEO Roman Kalista over the phone earlier this week, he told me it plans to launch in November in the New York City area where it will integrate with FreshDirect for grocery fulfillment and delivery. The company plans to continue operations in their native Czech Republic, where they still have around 1,500 users.
Nutrient isn’t the only meal planning service to integrate with online grocery fulfillment. In the U.K. Mucho works with grocery delivery service Ocado, and eMeals has partnered with Walmart, Kroger, Instacart and more for grocery fulfillment.
However, according to Kalista, their service is the only meal planning app that allows users to go through the entire process within the app ecosystem: finding recipes, grocery shopping, checking out, etc. He also said that many other services end up being super expensive because they do a poor job translating recipes into ingredient lists. Nutrient, however, promises to be so efficient with its shopping recipes that users can pay as little as $1.75 per serving for their groceries. The platform also breaks down price per serving so you can see how much your meals are costing.
For now, Nutrient makes money by adding a small markup to all of its groceries. As they grow across the country and add more grocery partners, Kalista told me they hope to switch the cost over to the retailer side.
It’s too early to tell if Nutrient can follow through on its promise to streamline the meal planning process. But the startup does hit on a few big trends we see a lot of at The Spoon: personalization, shoppable recipes, convenience, and food as medicine (which Kalista said they’ll incorporate more of in future iterations). Perhaps most importantly, Nutrient doesn’t lock users in. Unlike meal kits or certain recipe planning services, users can use the app for as often — or rarely — as they’d like.
After they finish the Food-X program, we’ll see if Nutrient can indeed deliver on its promise to be the all-in-one solution to meal planning.